Feds Say Foreign Competition Led To Some IBM Layoffs

Dec 26, 2013

The federal government has determined that about a quarter of the 419 IBM workers laid off last summer lost their jobs due to foreign competition and imports.

The state Department of Labor had petitioned the federal government for the ruling.  The decision entitles the workers to additional federal support for retraining programs.

Rose Lucenti is the department’s workforce development director. She said 115 IBM employees and contractors who worked at the company’s Williston facility now qualify for the retraining assistance.

“What it does it helps those individuals who were directly affected by increased imports or shifts of production to other countries,” she said. "So we were looking to have the U.S. Department of Labor, office of trade adjustment assistance, to do an investigation to determine if, in fact, that was the case for these individuals."

The ruling was not all that the state had hoped for. The federal office has not yet determined if the roughly 300 IBM employees who worked at the Essex Junction plant also qualify. Lucenti said the state is re-applying to the federal labor department on behalf of those workers.

"A new petition has been filed with the office of trade adjustment for them to do an investigation to determine if in fact there are any of the remaining individuals who meet the criteria to possibly be eligible for this assistance," she said.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has been working with the state to get the additional federal support. Sanders said he’s disappointed that the federal Department of Labor did not provide trade adjustment assistance for all the laid-off IBM workers.